OFAC adds 18 vessels to suspect list on North Korean trading

The US Treasury Department has added 18 ships to its list of vessels suspected of illicit practices in association with North Korea.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) noted that inclusion on the list did not mean that a ship or its owners were being put under sanctions.

Ship NameIMO
AN SAN 17303803
CHON MA SAN8660313
CHON MYONG 18712362
CHONG RIM 38665131
JI SONG 68898740
KANG DONG8977900
KUM PIT 18613578
KUM UN SAN8720436
MA DU SAN8021579
MU BONG 18610461
MYONG RYU 18532413
NAM SAN 88122347
PAEK MA9066978
PO CHON8848276
PU RYONG (aka KUM UN SAN 3)8705539
RYE SONG GANG 17389704
SAEBYOL (aka CHONG RIM 2)8916293
SAM JONG 18405311
SAM JONG 27408873
SAM MA 28106496
SONG WON8613360
TONG HUNG 58151415
UN PHA 28966535
YU JONG 28604917
YU PHYONG 58605026
YU SON (aka Y CHUN)8691702


OFAC said that, while some vessels on this list might be property in which a blocked person had an interest, the inclusion of a vessel in this annex did not constitute a determination by OFAC that the vessel had been identified as property in which a blocked person had an interest.

Of perhaps more interest on Friday was a tweet from the US President, in which he said that he had intervened to lift sanctions on two Chinese freight forwarders accused of trading illegally with North Korea.

“It was announced today by the US Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea,” the president wrote. “I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!” he tweeted.

The US Treasury had not made an announcement on Friday, so it was assumed that the tweet referred to the Thursday announcement. Apart from adding 18 ships, OFAC had added two more companies to its sanctions blacklist. The entities affected by Treasury’s action Thursday were Dalian Haibo International Freight and Liaoning Danxing International Forwarding, both located in Dalian, China.

OFAC alleged that in early 2018 Dalian Haibo shipped cargo from Dalian to a North Korean government buyer in Nampo, using North Korean-flagged vessels. Liaoning Danxing allegedly used deceptive practices to help EU-based North Korean operatives buy goods for the North Korean regime.

Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, when announcing the listing said that OFAC would “continue to enforce our sanctions, and we are making it explicitly clear that shipping companies employing deceptive tactics to mask illicit trade with North Korea expose themselves to great risk”.

The President then ordered the newly announced North Korea-related sanctions to be lifted. When asked for an explanation, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that “President Trump likes Chairman Kim, and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,”

John E Smith, former head of OFAC, told the New York Times that. “for an administration that continues to surprise, this is another first – the president of the US undercutting his own sanctions agency for imposing sanctions on Chinese actors supporting North Korea”, adding that “it’s a win for North Korea and China and a loss for U.S. credibility.”

In a statement Friday morning, China’s foreign ministry said that it would “launch an investigation according to domestic laws” into any possible violations that Dalian Haibo and Liaoning Danxing may have committed.